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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'Twas the Stomach Bug before Christmas

Illnesses usually do not come with an announcement.  There is never ample time to prepare and execute a plan of attack. They often arrive without regard to convenient times, locations, or special occasions.  Illnesses are not polite nor do they consider the impact of symptoms on their tiny targets.  A stomach virus is especially cruel. It often invades in the middle of the night when a victim is awakened in a most unkind manner.  The dreaded rush to the bathroom is usually pointless by the time the nasty bug is recognized.  All a parent can do at that point is comfort the child and initiate "Project Clean-Up" using appropriate haz-mat suit and protocol.

This is the scenario I encountered with my three children at various times within the last two months.   Each has taken their turn.  Two were gifted with repeat visits by the dreaded "hum bug."  Prior to Thanksgiving, we experienced a round of stomach ailments. Then right after Thanksgiving, we braced for Round 2. My eight year old son was stricken first closely followed by his eleven year old sister.  There is a certain element of creativity that must be employed by parents who have two children with a stomach virus at the same time.  This is especially relevant  when living in an environment that houses only one bathroom.

I assure you, this parenting dilemma is not covered in those videos you are advised to view prior to leaving the hospital after the birth of your children.  Some parenting books appear sqeamish when discussing bodily functions. Why? After all,everyone has had a bout with the intestinal consequences and repercussions related to the dreaded "rotovirus."  I believe more should be marketed to parents regarding motor planning and making adaptations to your environment during these traumatic parenting events. That way parents don't feel like idiots when both children are spewing liquids from more that one orifice at the same time.

Motor Planning:
motor planning,the ability to plan and execute skilled nonhabitual tasks. Also called motor praxis.
Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.
Here's where my experiences working with Occupational and Physical Therapists have come in handy in the parenting department!  I will never say they told me to do what I am about to share with you.  However, I was able to interpret their advice regarding body positioning and handling, making adaptations to the environment, and appropriate protocol for keeping my children as comfortable as possible in between their copious expulsion of bodily fluids.  (I'm trying really hard here not to be offensive with regard to terminology.)
I also had to make sure that I kept my children's school informed about their absences on a daily basis.  Our school district has a pretty strict standard regarding loss of time from school.  Even though there's not much you can do to decrease the time required for this illness to run it's marathon-like course, a trip to the doctor was still necessary to document that I indeed had a good reason for keeping my child out of school.  I can just imagine what I would say to the judge when called in to court to account for my child's frequent absences:
"I'm so sorry, your Honor.  I was so busy holding my son's ass over the large trash can while trying to avoid having him vomit on the kitchen floor that I forgot to call the school.  Meanwhile, my daughter was in our one and only bathroom having diarrhea and vomiting into the small trash can. Please forgive my oversight so I do not have to do community service.  Chances are great that this will happen again as long as other parents continue to send their sick children to school and reinfect my child!"  (Oops.  Did I just say that?  That's a whole other blog post.  So I won't go there today.)
Thankfully all that drama is "behind" us for the moment and I can now focus on getting ready for Christmas.  But I learned once again that parenting is definitely a fly-by the seat-of your-pants endeavor.  Adaptations always need to be made.  For a whole week an old shoe box lined with recycled grocery bags served as a quick fix when my child needed to throw up and couldn't make it to the bathroom on time.  A trash can can be cleaned up and sanitized.  I became quite adept at clean up duty at 3:00 in the morning.  The most important thing is to help your child feel comfortable and try to maintain some semblance of dignity. 

Parenting is a "team sport"  sometimes.  It helps to share, commiserate, and explore the opportunities or resources that are available to us.  Thanks for taking time to read this.  If you feel it would help someone else,  I invite you to pass it along.  It helps to know our shared experiences can make a difference! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gifts from the Heart

Holiday time and gift giving are chasing me again this year.  There are people I want to acknowledge for all the amazing ways they show kindness, emotional support, and love throughout the year.  This time of year leaves me breathless as I run toward that finish line that screams "Christmas."  How to balance these feeling of generosity with the little Grinch of a Gremlin called "the budget"  is a challenge that threatens to release the bah humbug in many of us.  Here are some ideas that I recently unpacked from my holiday box of memories.  Perhaps one of them will inspire you to create a gift that can be added to someone's treasury of holiday memories.

  1. I was the oldest of six children in our family.  Each year my Dad would carefully print the Months, Days, and Numbers on a large blank calendar that he had picked up from an office supply store.  (I assume that's where he found the item.) He then added every important event we needed to remember:  Birthdays, Anniversaries, and Special Occasions.  This was his hand written gift to my mother.  She posted that large calendar by the phone (back in the day when phones were actually attached to the wall) and used that organizational tool to track all of our activities throughout the year. 

    We posted my dad's concerts (he played French Horn for the Army Band, Virginia Philharmonic Orchestra, the Virginia Opera, and various other venues).  We also listed school activities and special projects that were due.  At the end of the year, it was fun to look back on that calendar and see how much our family had done.  I loved that calendar because it was so well written.  My dad had excellent teacher style printing, but I knew it must have taken some time for him to make it look that nice.

    Even if you don't want to hand write a calendar, there are many beautiful pre-printed ones that can serve the same purpose.  Add special touches of your own:  Favorite quotes, inspirational words of wisdom, or funny sayings sprinkled throughout each month.  The gift of time spent adding those unique items makes the present a Gift from the Heart.

  2. One year I purchased card stock from the craft store and cut each sheet into pieces the size of business cards.  My three children and I added memories of special things to give to their grandparents.  We included descriptions of special meals and favorite treats, movies we viewed together, holiday events, funny quotes, unique personality traits we love and appreciate, and even aromas that have left a lasting impressions.  I added memories from my own childhood including things I enjoyed about growing up in a large family.  My children even added art work on those tiny cards.  We found a decorative box (there are many selections at the dollar store) and placed those cards into the box.  A ribbon was added to complete the look and keep the box closed until its reveal.  The hand written cards and art work took some time to complete, but turned into a fun activity with my children.  It was a Gift from the Heart.

  3. One year when I lived in Germany I found myself alone for Christmas.  I decided to volunteer to make and deliver cookies through our church group.  Baking helped me remember the amazing aromas associated with my Hungarian mother's cooking.  I packaged the cookies in those cute little holiday tins, just like my mom did when I was a child.  I received my mission to deliver cookies to the soldiers on guard duty for Christmas Eve.  In my little yellow 1978 German Specs Volkswagon Passat (hey...I paid for it myself in cash for $550.00) I delivered those cookies.  I could have been delivering gold given the response from those soldiers.  Their smiles and heart warming thanks were all I needed to feel the spirit of Christmas.  I no longer felt like I was alone, in a foreign country, far away from my family.  I was also given a Gift from the Heart.  

There are many ways to make a difference to others this year.  I would love to hear from my readers about how you created a memorable moment and gave a Gift from the Heart.  It doesn't have to cost a lot.  It just needs a little time and a touch of creativity.

Have a wonderful week and thanks for taking time to read 
this blog.  You are appreciated!